Defense minister says China has 510,000 in military reserves

08:16, December 29, 2010      

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Chinese Minister of National Defense said on Tuesday it had reduced the country's military reserves forces from 600,000 to 510,000 men and women over the past five years.

China has also reduced the number of people in its militias from 10 million to eight million during the same period, said Gen. Liang Guanglie in an interview with Xinhua.

It is the first time the Chinese government has given the exact number of people in the reserve forces and militias. In times of emergencies, the reserve forces and militias can be ordered to assist China's 2.3-million regular troops, the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Although China has experienced around 30 years of peace, Gen. Liang said the PLA has never relaxed its military preparations and vigilance especially at a time when "regional military conflicts can not be ruled out."

In times of peace, the PLA's reserves conduct regular military training and participate in non-combat military operations, such as disaster relief work.

The minister said the PLA had pushed forward military reforms in the past five years to build a more powerful military with upgraded weapon systems and high-quality personnel.

Currently, 80 percent of the PLA's officers have four years of higher education compared with 25.8 percent in 1998, Gen. Liang said.

To improve the quality of military personnel, the Chinese government has encouraged university graduates to join the armed forces since 2009. More than 100,000 college graduates gained their uniforms in 2010.

In the past five years, China has dispatched more than 13,000 United Nations-commissioned peacekeepers to carry out 13 U.N. missions around the world, according to Liang.

The PLA also sent professional units to Haiti, Pakistan and other countries and regions for disaster relief efforts and to give medical aids and other humanitarian relief, he said.

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